NASA has in recent years been constrained by several budget cuts, but NASA is now in high hopes for an increase in its budget. The white house has already given its approval of the increased budget allocation, it is now up to the U.S. Congress to affirm if this will indeed be the case.
Simultaneously with this increased budget, NASA will start a new section which will be called “The Space Technology Mission Directorate,” and just as the name suggests, this new department is to do research in new technology.
The plan published on the NASA website (see more information) outlines a program of; “technology development activities that will rapidly produce critically needed capabilities that have the potential to revolutionize the way we explore, discover and work in space.”
NASA wants to invest in chemical propulsion systems and developing new non-chemical propulsion technologies, such as ion propulsion, electric propulsion, solar sails etc. To enable future more efficient and affordable space travel.
Other investments will be allocated to “space aperture arraying”, these are radio-frequency communication technologies and also optical terminals for deep space missions.
NASA will also invest in the development in new lightweight materials, robotics, automated systems, environmental control, instruments, sensory technology and also in future air and spacecraft capabilities.
NASA Strategic Space Technology Investment Plan